Marquette Head Basketball Coach Steve Wojciehowski
9:50 p.m., No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Marquette, TBS
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Marquette student-athletes Luke Fischer, Markus Howard and Katin Reinhardt.
Q. Katin, what is it -- you show up on a team and they end up getting into the NCAA. Is that how it works?
KATIN REINHARDT: It's a blessing for me to be part of the three teams that have been in the NCAA Tournament. I've just been fortunate to be on teams that are good enough to make it in March.
Q. I've never been to one of your practices, but I wonder if one of you could give me an idea of the intensity level of your practices?
LUKE FISCHER: They're pretty intense. Coach wants the best from us. He comes from a great pedigree of coaching before him. So he expects a lot from us. They're intense, a lot of up and down, a lot of contact, but in the end he gets the job done.
Q. Markus, when you go to the NCAA Tournament, you expect to play at more of a neutral venue. But playing South Carolina in Greenville, it seems like it's going to be more of a home atmosphere for South Carolina. So how do you guys wrap that around your head?
MARKUS HOWARD: We'll we're going to try to treat it as any other road game in the Big East, but as a team we're just fortunate and happy to be in the position we are, and we're excited to play, we're ready and excited for the challenge.
Q. The game is being billed as one of the top 3-point shooting teams against one of the top defensive teams against the three. What have you seen of South Carolina's defense that makes them good?
MARKUS HOWARD: We've seen in film of South Carolina, I mean, they're a great team. We've seen that they like to pressure the ball, and pressure off the ball as well. So just pinpointing that in preparation for us has been a key part of what we've been doing to practice and prepare for South Carolina.
Q. Markus, Luke mentioned about the pedigree, Steve's pedigree. Does he ever talk about this is the way they do things at Duke or did things when he was at Duke?
MARKUS HOWARD: No. Coach, he's part of the Marquette family now. So he keeps things pretty focused on that perspective.
But I mean we all know his pedigree. We all know his background. So just his knowledge of the game, we all try and pinpoint different aspects of where he's been and try to learn from every aspect possible.
Q. Given, Markus, what you said about Coach Wojciechowski's pedigree, do you know what it means if you were to advance and he gets to coach against his mentor in Coach K?
MARKUS HOWARD: We're all focused on South Carolina. That's our first and foremost, No. 1 concern. We're just going to take it one game at a time and just focus on that at the moment right now.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Coach Wojciechowski.
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: We're incredibly excited to be here. I'm so happy for my players, my staff, the entire Marquette community. It's an honor and a privilege to play in the NCAA Tournament. I think our guys are very excited about earning the right to be here and we're looking forward to tomorrow night's game for South Carolina.
Q. Mike mentioned that he thought you've done a really good job with Marquette of taking the players you have and molding your style of play around that. Is that by design? And ultimately you want to get it back to being more of the way you played at Duke and coached at Duke?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: I assume by Mike, you meant Coach. I'm not used to referring to him like that.
But I think one of the things Coach has always talked about to all of his -- the guys who have worked for him, is figuring out how to put your team in the best position to win. And with the way we've played this year, I think it gives our team the best opportunity to win.
I think, obviously, I learned a lot from Coach in my time at Duke, but I think everybody's got to be their own person and make their own decision. So hopefully decisions that my staff and I have made for this team have been good ones.
Q. You've obviously been to a lot of NCAA Tournaments. Is this any different because of you being a head coach and taking this team here?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: Well, they're all special, but I don't think any of them are more special than this. Like I said in the opening statement, the thing I'm most excited about is that our players get to experience this. We have a number of guys on our roster, all but one, who have never been part of the NCAA Tournament. And I think the NCAA Tournament's the greatest sporting event there is. And so for our guys to experience this and for me to get to go along on that ride with them, it's something that I'll always cherish.
Q. Pretty much the same subject, but are there things that you took from the Duke program that you want to put the same stamp on your program, not necessarily the style of play, but in just the overall program?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: The type of experience players have, the pursuit of excellence, both on and off the court, the relationships, the type of experience the players have, not only as a player at Marquette but as a student-athlete at the university. Those are all things that I want the guys at our place here at Marquette to feel.
Q. Steve, what have you seen out of South Carolina so far this week on film?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: Well, it's really been fun for me to study South Carolina, obviously. I have utmost respect for Frank Martin, and in learning more about them, they play exactly like a Frank Martin team, what you would expect them to play.
They play incredibly hard. I think they're as good a defensive team as we've played against all year. When you watch them play, not many people play defense like them anymore. There's been a trend in college basketball to go into more prevent defenses, pack-line defenses, and to watch them play and get out in passing lanes, contest every pass, really be aggressive in that respect, you know, as a coach it's fun to watch. But as a coach it's not fun at the same time when you have to play against them. And so we know we have our hands full against an outstanding team in their backyard, really.
Q. Coach, you talked about having players that have not been to the tournament. How do you keep them loose, having to play the late night game tomorrow night? They're going to be anxious to play. How will you keep them focused?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: I think in some respects it's an advantage to be able -- although we've been very busy today with our preparation, whether we're at meals, whatever, you get to see the games going on -- you really start to feel a part of the tournament.
For our team, we have to shoot our bullets, and we need to go into the game not holding anything back. People who have asked you seven months ago if you thought your team would have been in this position, most, quote/unquote, experts would have said no. So our guys have played at their best when they've been loose and free and determined, and that's how we want to go into the game tomorrow night.
Q. How often do you and Coach K communicate during the season or during the offseason, and is it all basketball talk or is it beyond that?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: We communicate quite a lot. Obviously during the season it's harder to get somebody on the phone. I mean, we're both -- we have a lot of responsibilities with our own team.
But obviously we communicate quite a bit in season and then we talk out of season as well. He's one of the people I'm closest to in my life. So that's the type of relationship we have. I appreciate everything that he's done for me as a player, as an assistant coach, and now being somebody I can lean on as a head coach.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks very much.